Biodiversity: Study sheds new light on wolf predation

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Hunting wolves may have less of an impact on elk herds than previously believed. Photo via USFWS.

Three-year tracking project helps show that wolves alone aren’t necessarily responsible for declining elk populations

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — For quite some time, conventional wisdom has held that the presence of wolves in the Greater Yellowstone area has had beneficial impacts on the overall ecosystem by keeping elk on the move.

But a new study, led by recent University of Wyoming Ph.D. graduate Arthur Middleton, casts some doubt on that theory. For three years, the researchers closely followed the  Clarks Fork elk herd west of Cody, along with the wolf packs that prey on it. Continue reading

Colorado: Poaching investigation ends with convictions

Michigan men hit with fines, banned from Colorado for 5 years

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A Colorado elk herd. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Three Michigan men who poached elk, bear and bobcats in Colorado have been convicted and sentenced for their crimes after a long-running investigation by wildlife officials in both states.

In all, the investigation implicated eight men, including several from Colorado, who were engaged in systematic violations of game laws during illegal hunts that took place in the King Mountain area of southern Routt County in Colorado. Continue reading

Elk, bighorn sheep studied in southern Colorado

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Colorado biologists to study bighorn sheep herds in the San Juans. PHOTO COURTESY CDOW.

Biologists learning more about big game movement in the San Juans

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Colorado Parks and Wildlife Biologists are studying how elk and bighorn sheep in southern Colorado move in an effort to better manage some of the state’s charismatic wildlife.

“These studies will help us to learn important information about the elk and bighorn populations in this area of Colorado,” said Stephanie Steinhoff, terrestrial biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the San Luis Valley.

The studies are being conducted in the south San Juan Mountains on the west side of the San Luis Valley and east of Pagosa Springs.

In the elk study, 25 animals — eight bulls and 17 cows — were captured and fitted with VHF radio collars which allow biologists to track the animals’ movements from the air. The animals were captured in mid-February. At least part of the elk herd migrates into New Mexico, but wildlife biologists are not sure how far they go. Continue reading

Colorado biologists to hold elk symposium in Steamboat

Information session will address winter impacts to big game herds

A herd of elk near Buena Vista, Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY DAVE HANNIGAN/COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After watching elk grow weak and die during last year’s record-breaking snowfall, some residents of the Steamboat Springs region decided to take matters into their own hands.

They started feeding the elk, which may have saved a few individual animals, but can cause problems for the larger population, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists. The best way to ensure healthy big game populations is with large-scale habitat improvement projects, the biologists said. Read an in-depth story on this issue in Steamboat Today.

“Last winter, due to the deep snow and difficult conditions, we had elk move into town and many people saw firsthand the impact an especially harsh winter can have on wildlife,” said Danielle Domson, wildlife manager for the Steamboat Springs South District. “The situation caused some concern, but we want to explain to everyone that what they saw was actually a natural part of an elk’s life cycle. Colorado Parks and Wildlife information big game management is online here Continue reading

Elk poaching investigated near Copper Mountain

Information sought in suspected elk poaching near Copper Mountain, at Stafford Creek.

State wildlife officers want info on elk that was killed and left to rot

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Wildlife officers are seeking information that can help identify the person or persons who illegally killed a bull elk and abandoned its carcass near Stafford Creek, approximately one mile from I-70 in the vicinity of Copper Mountain.

The elk was probably killed in early September and the suspected poachers removed only the head, antlers and a few portions of the hide, abandoning the meat.

“Shooting big-game and leaving the meat to rot is a senseless waste of Colorado’s wildlife resources,” said Breckenridge District Wildlife Manager Sean Shepherd. “This is essentially stealing from the people of Colorado, and whoever did this could face felony charges. We would appreciate any help in finding who did this.”

Wildlife investigators are asking any member of the public who might have information concerning this incident to contact CPW’s Operation Game Thief. The poaching hotline is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest in this case, and callers can remain anonymous by calling toll free, 1-877-265-6648. More info is online at Operation Game Thief.

Colorado hunter fined $5,177 for killing moose

Conviction could lead to permanent loss of hunting privileges

A Colorado hunter must pay a $5,177 fine for mistakenly shooting a moose.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A Highlands Ranch man was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and ordered to pay a $5,177 fine after pleading guilty to shooting a moose (thinking it was an elk) and failing to report it to the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The case highlights a growing concern for Colorado wildlife managers — hunters who fail to correctly identify big game animals.

Joel D. Eady, 30, was charged with willful destruction of wildlife – a Class 5 felony, as well as hunting out of season, illegal possession of wildlife and failing to properly care for a harvested animal.

During an October 2010 hunting trip in the Missouri Creek Basin, east of Meeker, Eady mistakenly shot a cow moose after misidentifying it as an elk. According to witnesses, Eady told those at the scene that he would turn himself in, but never did.

“The biggest concern here is that Mr. Eady never reported this to us,” said District Wildlife Manager and lead investigator Jon Wangnild.  “We understand that mistakes happen and we will usually be more lenient with someone who reports an accident right away, but failing to report this incident turned a careless mistake into a felony.” Continue reading

Colorado: Baiting stations to divert elk from livestock

Heavy snow has pushed elk out of the high country, so the Colorado Division of Wildlife will try to divert them from important livestock feeding areas in the Yampa Valley. PHOTO COURTESY THE NATIONAL PAKR SERVICE.

Heavy snows set up potential conflicts between wildlife and ranchers

By Summit Voice

The Colorado Division of Wildlife will set up elk-baiting stations near Maybell, in northwest Colorado, to prevent conflicts between elk hers and livestock feeding areas in the Yampa River Valley. The elk are moving out of heavy snow areas to forage, with potential impacts to ranchers in the area.

“We’re concerned about the situation in the Maybell area,” said Area Wildlife Manager Bill de Vergie of Meeker. “With more snow and more winter on the way, we’re working hard to minimize losses to the ranching community.” Continue reading

Moose shootings prompt CDOW warning

A moose cow and two calves graze near the headwaters of the Fraser River in Grand County. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Hunters need to be sure of their target before pulling the trigger; mistaken kills could lead to serious fines

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Halfway through the fall rifle season, hunters in Colorado have carelessly or negligently shot 10 moose, spurring Colorado Division of Wildlife game managers to warn big game hunters to be more careful before pulling the trigger. Otherwise, they could face stiff penalties.

“We’re seeing way too many preventable mistakes,” said Ron Velarde, DOW’s Northwest Regional Manager. “If you aren’t 100 percent sure that what you have in your sights is what you have on your license, do not pull the trigger.”  Continue reading

Wintry weather spurs warning to hunters

The onset of wintry weather prompted state wildlife officials to contact hunters in the field, urging them to be prepared for the conditions.

Proper gear needed for high country elk hunt, wildlife officials say

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado Division of Wildlife officers are contacting hunters in the field, urging them to be prepared for wintry weather in the high country after an intensive search for three hunters in the Flattops Wilderness Area ended only after a National Guard helicopter was called in to assist with the search.

“While hunter success increases with snowfall, folks need to have the proper winter gear before heading out to hunt at this time of year,” said Perry Will, area wildlife manager for the Division of Wildlife in Glenwood Springs. “Some of the hunters we are contacting are glad to see the snow because it makes the hunting better,” Will explained. “Those are the hunters who are prepared.” Continue reading

Wolves not helping with Yellowstone aspen regeneration

Wolves were supposed to help regenerate aspen in the Yellowstone area, but new research suggests that may not be happening yet.

New study suggests elk still overgrazing young aspen stands

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — U.S. Geological Survey biologists this week unveiled new research showing that aspen groves in the Yellowstone region aren’t recovering as hoped after wolves were re-introduced into the ecosystem mix.

The theory was that wolves would create a landscape of fear in which elk would move around more, reducing the amount of browsing on young aspen stands. But the study suggests that hasn’t happened yet.

“This study … confirms that none of the aspen groves studied after wolf restoration appear to be regenerating, even in areas risky to elk,” said researcher Matthew Kauffman, adding that the research also showed that elk are indeed responsible for the decline of aspen stands. Continue reading

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